2011

The Aquarium opens The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank, an exhibit that features sharks and rays in a mangrove-themed tank surrounded by shallow edges and viewing windows, allowing visitors to experience a close encounter with these animals.

 

Two rescued California sea lion pups, Zoe and Sierra, join the Aquarium’s colony of Northern fur seals in the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center.

The upgrade of the Aquarium’s laboratory facilities, including the first fully equipped animal stress lab in the U.S., gets underway.

 

2010

President Bud Ris makes a special plea for ocean conservation at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Aquarium researchers collaborate with Roger Williams University to successfully rear queen triggerfish from eggs harvested from the Giant Ocean Tank, a first for any aquarium. The findings are the first steps toward sustainable ornamental fish trade.

A new education initiative called SEA TURTLE introduces teens to marine biology and conservation issues during a semester-long scuba certification program.

Planning begins for renovations to the Giant Ocean Tank to transform the visitor experience. An off-site husbandry facility is secured to accommodate the needs of the growing Marine Animal Rescue Team.

The Aquarium's principal founder, David B. Stone, passes away.

2009

The Aquarium marks a major milestone--its 40th anniversary.

The New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center opens. The open-air exhibit gives visitors an unforgettabe look at Northern fur seals and stunning views of Boston Harbor, as well as presents a well-rounded vision of the Aquarium's global conservation efforts.

 

The Aquarium co-sponsors a major symposium on climate change's effects on oceans and coastlines with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The Community Nights series launches with culturally sensitive translated materials to welcome new families to the Aquarium.

The Right Whale Research Team celebrates the birth of 39 right whales in the calving grounds off the Southeastern coast of the U.S. The Marine Animal Rescue Team rescues 83 cold-stunned sea turtles.

 

2008

The Right Whale Research Team achieves a major policy victory when the federal government enacts a speed limit on commercial shipping traffic.

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), the largest contiguous marine protected area at that time, doubles in size thanks to efforts by the New England Aquarium, Conservation International and the Pacific island nation of Kiribati.

A temporary Shark and Ray Touch Tank generates excitement among visitors and paves the way for a permanent exhibit to be installed in the Aquarium's West Wing.

The Aquarium launches the live blue™ concept and a redesigned website, making use of new technologies to reach a broader audience of about 1.8 million viewers annually.

 

2007

The Aquarium’s newest theme program, Killer Instincts, opens to the public. This exhibit helps visitors learn the truth about the animals we most fear — such as the sand tiger shark, anaconda, great barracuda, electric eel, lionfish, moray eel, giant Pacific octopus and southern stingray. The program includes a larger-than-life shark video and an IMAX film, Sea Monsters 3D: A Prehistoric Adventure

After five years of planning, the Aquarium conducts a major expedition with National Geographic and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to the 10,000-foot deep Celebes Sea in the Indo-Pacific. The expedition is notable in that the relatively warm Celebes Sea harbors living fossils, prehistoric animals dating back tens or hundreds of millions of years. The team uses time-delayed video cameras, nets, scuba gear and a sub-like ROV (remotely operated vehicle) on the hunt for strange creatures and new habitats.

The Aquarium launches a new comprehensive five-year plan for upgrading exhibits and strengthening education and conservation programs.

1.3 million people visit the Aquarium in 2007, including more than 100,000 schoolchildren.

The Aquarium completes a detailed review of the science pertaining to the impact of climate change, entitled Global Change and the Marine Environment.

The sustainable seafood initiative now includes the development of a new business model for Aquarium partners who buy seafood in quantity—Ahold, Gorton’s and Dardens—in order to ensure sustainable stocks of seafood.

Researchers began a multi-year study to assess the impact of a major new offshore Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) terminal off Gloucester.

Spearheaded by Aquarium scientist Dr. Moira Brown, a team from the New England Aquarium and the Canadian Whale Institute convince the Canadian government to designate the Roseway Basin, where right whales congregate, as an area to be avoided by shipping traffic. (Collisions with ships are one of the leading causes of death of right whales, which are highly endangered.)  In addition, Harvard University Press publishes The Urban Whale, edited by Scott Kraus and Rosalind Rolland, scientists at the Aquarium. The book presents current knowledge about the biology and plight of critically endangered right whales.

2006

The Aquarium earned full accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums; the committee commended the ongoing commitment to marine conservation.

We welcome Ursula, Cordova and Chainsaw, three female Northern fur seals, a new species for the Aquarium. The seals, on loan from the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, are seen by thousands of visitors.

 

The Walk Like a Penguin program launches with interactive features, live presentations, ice sculptures, podcasts and more, enabling visitors to understand penguins in new ways. After six penguin chicks hatch, one from an egg donated by the Detroit Zoo, the Aquarium's penguin population swells to 65 birds.  Since 1968, the Aquarium has hatched and raised 60 penguin chicks. The penguins are one of the most popular exhibits at the Aquarium.

Stars of the Sea features the Aquarium’s most popular animals, including the sand tiger shark, green seaturtle, giant Pacific octopus, barracuda and more.

With funding from Conservation International, the Aquarium, lead by Greg Stone, collaborates with the country of Kiribati in the South Pacific to establish one of the largest marine protected areas in the world. The goal of this project is to preserve the rare biodiversity in this pristine area, which has eight coral atolls and two submerged reef systems.

The Simons IMAX Theatre welcomed its 2 millionth guest. In addition to showing Hollywood movies, the theater features animals too large, too small, too dangerous or too endangered to be shown inside the Aquarium.

2005

Aquarium launched Sharks: Tales and Truths, a new program approach that showcases our impressive collection of sharks. The interdisciplinary program involves many departments in the Aquarium—from education to animal husbandry to conservation. The program was complemented by an IMAX film, Sharks 3D, which was seen by 210,000 visitors.

A new program, Turtle Trek, launches, coinciding with sea turtle stranding season, when endangered sea turtles recuperate in our medical center. Visitors “travel the turtle trail” of live animals and learned about these creatures that have been on Earth for 300 million years.

The new Curious George Discovery Corner opens; the bright new carpeted space in the main building will be a focal point for family programs.

Following the tsunami of 2004, Aquarium scientist Greg Stone leads an expedition with the National Geographic Society to survey Thailand’s coral reefs.

 

Bud Ris, a figure in both the scientific and environmental fields, becomes President and Chief Executive Officer of the Aquarium. He replaces Edmund Toomey, who returned to academia after his years as President and CEO. Ris is former head of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He has been at the forefront of debates on key issues such as climate change and began his career working on marine conservation and coastal zone management. 

 

2004

The Aquarium’s right whale research project turns 25, making it one of the longest running whale studies in the world. The Aquarium’s right whale research team seeks to prevent the extinction of the species (currently only about 350 right whales exist) by working with scientists, fishermen, government agencies and shipping companies. The Aquarium has pioneered work using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to track movement patterns of these whales and provide real-time information about their location to avoid collisions with ships.

Dan Holmes, a Plymouth lobsterman, donates a rare white lobster to the Aquarium.  These lobsters are extremely rare—a one-in-100-million occurrence.

 

 

2003

Amazing Jellies, a two-story, twelve-tank exhibit is launched, showcasing these mysterious animals. The exhibit was funded by a $1.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The exhibit focuses on the fact that jellies are “survivors,” increasing in number due to climate change. The exhibit includes a specially-designed tank that maintains a continuous current in order to keep the jellies in motion since they are unaccustomed to boundaries.

The IMAX Theatre drew crowds to Ocean Wonderland, Ghosts of the Abyss, a film exploring the wreck of the Titanic, and The Matrix Reloaded, the first simultaneous release of a Hollywood movie in 35mm and IMAX. The Simons IMAX Theatre at the Aquarium has New England’s largest screen and 12,000 watts of sound.

 

2002

Living Links: Choices for Survival opens. Using sea turtles, frogs and fish as travel companions, visitors are guided across land, fresh water and sea to understand the links between ecosystems.

 

The Aquarium's Animal Medical Center joins forces with Harvard Medical School doctors to try a healing technique on fish; all the fish that were treated were fully healed and returned to their exhibits. 

 

Based on over two decades of Aquarium research, the plan for vessel traffic in the Bay of Fundy is changed to reduce the likelihood of vessels hitting endangered right whales. The small shift is nevertheless expected to reduce these incidents by up to 80%. 

 

 

2001

The Matthew and Marcia Simons IMAX® Theatre opens to the public. A 3-D theater with a six-story flat screen, it was designed to show visitors animals that are too large, too small or too endangered to exhibit live at the Aquarium.

Ed Toomey becomes the new executive director of the Aquarium.

 

 

2000

The new Immersion Interactive Theater opens; it shows the film titled Here’s Boston as well as short films produced in-house by the Aquarium staff.

Nyanja: Africa’s Inland Sea exhibit opens. 

The Activity Center is created for hands-on family learning for children 10 and under.

 

1999

An offsite exploration center opens in Newport, R.I., that encourages beachgoers to take a closer look at shore animals and their habitats; it offers hands-on educational and art activities, beach walks and talks by experts.

 

Sounds of the Sea, an exhibit funded by the National Science Foundation, opens in the Education Center.

Voyager III, a customized catamaran, joins the fleet making daily whale watching trips.

The little blue penguins join the African penguins in the always-popular penguin exhibit.

A new facility for harbor porpoise rehabilitation is opened in Duxbury, Mass., with a critical care pool and a 29,000-gallon rehabilitation tank with the ability to house up to three porpoises at a time.

 

1998

With the completion of the West Wing, a larger space for changing exhibits is created. The expanded space includes a larger gift shop and the Harbor View Café, which overlooks Boston Harbor with views of the Boston skyline.

The popular penguin exhibit is renovated with an improved habitat for the animals and new signage to educate visitors on the life and habitat of these amazing animals.

 

1997

The new Aquarium Medical Center, which gives visitors an inside look at animal care, is opened to the public.

The first exhibit of the new Education Center focuses on Georges Bank and tells the story of this area fishery with live animals and hands-on exhibits.

A new seal and sea otter exhibit opens, providing an intimate view of California sea otters and harbor seals in a naturalistic setting.

 

1996

In September, the Aquarium breaks ground for its new West Wing.

A new special exhibit, Ponds: the Earth's Eyes, opens.

 

 

1995

The Aquarium launches its first website.

A new exhibit, Jellies, opens to foster awareness and appreciation of these beautiful but misunderstood animals.

The Aquarium's Education Center opens.

1994

The Aquarium unveils plans and exhibit concepts for an expanded facility.

More than 7,000 people attend Aquafest, a free public celebration of the Aquarium's 25th birthday.

Jerry Schubel, an oceanographer from SUNY, Long Island, is named President and CEO of the Aquarium upon the retirement of executive director John Prescott.

The Women in Science program launches, offering middle school girls the opportunity to learn about research, conservation and animal care from female scientists at the Aquarium.

 

1993

The Aquarium names a new design team for a major expansion of the facility.

A new position of conservation officer is created; this person is charged with developing and implementing a strategic plan for aquatic conservation.

 

The Animal Heath Department at the Aquarium is started; it is designed to allow visitors to see veterinarians in action as they treated exhibit animals and animals recently rescued from the wild.

 

1992

The Boston Harbor Room is renovated.

"To present, promote and protect the world of water" is adopted as the mission of the Aquarium.

1991

Voyager II, a new state-of-the-art Whale Watch boat, is christened. The Aquarium's "Science at Sea" harbor cruises begin onboard the Doc Edgerton.

 

 

1989

Aquanaut Sylvia Earle receives the David B. Stone Award, saying that she looks forward to the next decade as "the greatest period of underwater discovery."

Stick Your Neck Out — A Closer Look At Turtles brings new drama to the life of turtles with a giant fiberglass sculpture over the entrance marquee and an eerie swamp-like setting as their habitat.

1988

Stars of the Sea presents an exhibit of sea stars—from a Hollywood perspective.

The Aquarium introduces a new Thinking Gallery to educate its visitors on the world of fishes.

1987

Boston Harbor: The Place, the Problem, the Plan becomes a permanent exhibit in the Boston Harbor View Room. The Aquarium's research staff participates in a Boston Harbor Monitoring Program.

The Aquarium rescues three baby pilot whales from a mass stranding on Cape Cod.

A NOVA TV program and a children's book, Rescue of the Stranded Whales, celebrates the successful rehabilitation of these whales and their reintroduction to the wild.

1986

The exhibit Don't Blink Now uses live animals and video to capture animal behaviors that happen too fast or too infrequently for most of us to notice.

The Aquarium publishes Dive to the Coral Reefs and The Last Extinction, reflecting a growing commitment to conservation issues.

1985

The Marine Animal Health Care Center opens.

The Flooded Forest and the Connecticut River Basin exhibits are introduced in the freshwater gallery.

 

Rockhopper penguins join their black-footed cousins in their own special corner of the pool beneath the Giant Ocean Tank.

A new exhibit, Fish as Art, presents the beautiful and the bizarre. Designer fish such as goldfish and koi are highlighted.

 

The Aquarium begins Nature of New England, a regular series of reports for WBZ-TV produced and written by staff member Paul Erickson.

A cookbook, A Feast of Fishes, joins a growing list of books published in association with the Aquarium.

1984

The Year of the Whale triggers an extravaganza of events including a special exhibit, Whales: New England's Wandering Giants, a symposium on right whales and a Whales Alive conference.

The Aquarium's Giant Ocean Tank (GOT) gets a major facelift of its coral reef.

1983

Operation Headstart, organized to protect endangered Plymouth red-bellied turtles, begins.

A special exhibit, Out of Sight, gives visitors a new perspective on microscopic life in the water, with some images magnified up to 20,000-30,000 times.

1982

The Cold Marine Gallery is newly refurbished and focuses on Northern Waters of the World.

The Aquarium begins a collaboration with Elderhostel resulting in an educational outreach program for seniors. NEAq also starts Elderreach, a program for visits to nursing homes. A children's hospital outreach program begins with the help of education staff and volunteers.

A new tidepool exhibit, The Edge of the Sea, opens in the freshwater gallery.

The latest exhibit, Frogs and Toads, featured the world's most lovable amphibians.

 

1981

Two fishes, the red drum and permit, spawn for the first time in the Giant Ocean Tank.

The Aquarium presents The Treasure of the Concepcion, its first special exhibit in a new area for special exhibits.

 

 

1980

A New England Aquarium research team unexpectedly discovers twenty-five Atlantic right whales in the Bay of Fundy. Before the discovery, scientists believed the right whale was nearly extinct. As one of the scientists recalled, “it was like finding a brontosaurus in the backyard.” Later research mapped a right whale migration route from Nova Scotia to Georgia.

"Louisiana Lou," a Risso's dolphin trapped in a harbor tanker slip, is boarded at the Aquarium.

1979

The Boston Pops mark the tenth anniversary of the New England Aquarium. A new waterfront park is inaugurated on the Aquarium's front plaza.

A baby dolphin, "Echo," is born at the Aquarium.

1978

The Aquarium endures the "Blizzard of 78," which brings wind speeds of 93 miles per hour and tides 18 feet above normal to Boston's waterfront.

1977

Dolphins Kathy, Spit, Apollo, Neptune, Dixie and Peach join sea lions Mugs, Samantha, Merlin and Deacon as Aquarium attractions.

With the consent of the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Aquarium begins a program of responding to stranded marine mammals in New England.

1976

The Tall Ships Parade celebrates the Fourth of July.

1974

Built and launched in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the barge Discovery moors next to the Aquarium's main building, becoming a marine mammal pavilion for dolphins and sea lions.

 

1973

Jacques Yves-Cousteau receives the David. B. Stone award.

Andre the harbor seal begins the first of nine winters at the Aquarium. He summered in Rockport, Maine until his death in 1985.

 

1972

The first David B. Stone award is given to Woods Hole scientist Bostwick Ketchum. Named after the Aquarium founder and trustee, the Stone award recognizes distinguished service to environment and community.

1971

The Harold E. Edgerton Laboratory, a center for basic and applied science at the Aquarium, is dedicated, honoring time-lapse photo inventor and Aquarium trustee Harold "Doc" Edgerton.

Hoover, the talking harbor seal, begins the first of 14 years at the Aquarium. "Hello there" and "How are you?" were just two of the phrases he knew.

1970

Myrtle, the green sea turtle, takes up residence in the Giant Ocean Tank and remains there today — almost 40 years later.

"Spotted Throat" and "Mate," two of the Aquarium's black-footed penguins, give birth to two baby chicks.

1969

On June 20, The New England Aquarium opens its doors to the public with more than 12,000 visitors the first day. By year-end, 425,000 visitors see its exhibits.